Ten Great Tips for Photographing Your Roadtrek

If you’re like me, you love your Roadtrek.  It’s your baby.  And, much like a new baby, you want to show it off.  And what better way to show it off than in pictures!  My wife Rochelle and I came up with some photography tips to help you showcase your Roadtrek Class B Van Conversion like it’s never been seen before.  So pick up your camera, or your smartphone, and let’s go shooting.

Trick #1

Play with scale.

Your Roadtrek is a pretty big beast, but we all love them because they’re so much smaller than the alternatives.

Charley looks huge next to regular cars.
Charley looks huge next to regular cars.

You can play with that size difference by photographing your van against a variety of backgrounds.  Want to show how big it is?  Then show it off against the typical passenger car, or shoot from a low perspective.  Want to make it appear smaller?  Nature is your answer.  A 10-foot tall motorhome is nothing compared to a 3,000 foot tall granite rock.

Charley under El Capitan
Charley under El Capitan

Don’t lock yourself into shooting your Roadtrek the same way, time after time.  By looking for different backgrounds and environments, you’ll be able to add personality to your photography.

Trick #2

Shoot from the inside out.

Photographing our Roadtrek “Charley” from the inside out is Rochelle’s new favorite pastime.

Sunset from Bodega Head, California
Sunset from Bodega Head, California

And who can blame her.  Those big windows are perfect for “framing” the grand outdoors.  I asked her nicely and she told me a few of her secrets for getting a great shot from “the inside out”.  First of all, she loves taking “inside” shots with her smartphone because it has such a wide angle of view.  But you do need to watch out for exposure problems because the inside of your van is usually much darker than what you’re seeing on the outside.  If you’re lucky, you have one of the newer smartphones which have a built-in HDR feature which can even out the exposure.  If not, you might need to play around with a software editing app to get a shot that looks the way you want it.  She does take a minute or two straightening up the van before she takes her photos.  Having a big white roll of paper towels in the middle of your shot will quickly take away any impact you’re hoping to achieve.

Trick #3

Tell a story.

Yosemite Valley and Half Dome
Yosemite Valley and Half Dome

The best way to captivate viewers (our friends, family and anybody else who will look at our pictures) is to tell a story with our photographs.

Checking out the Roadtrek on a lift.
Checking out the Roadtrek on a lift.

If you’re visiting a place that’s fantastically gorgeous and you’re out taking some breathtaking landscapes, make sure to include your RV in the picture.

Or, try the journalistic approach.  A series of shots that tell a story, even a less-than-glamorous visit to the shop, can be memorable.

Trick #4

Put yourself in the picture. 

As much as you like looking at photographs of your Roadtrek, other folks might want to see some pictures of you as well.  But there’s no rule saying you can’t do both.

Valley View in Yosemite Valley
Valley View in Yosemite Valley

You can include as much, or as little, of your Roadtrek as you like, but when your friends see the smile on your face with that wonderful ride in the background, they won’t be able to keep from smiling too.

Putting the Roadtrek up on leveling blocks...fail!
Putting the Roadtrek up on leveling blocks…fail!

Trick #5

Try concentrating on the “little” things.

Little shots can be a lot of fun, and they can tell a story (remember hint #3) all in one shot.  For example, the first time I used leveling blocks it was a bit of a disaster.  I tried stacking up too many, without building a proper “ramp.”  Rochelle was nice enough to document my incompetence, and I have to admit, it does bring back some memories. I’ve learned a lot about RV camping in the last year.

Colorful Aspen trees in the Agile's rear window.
Colorful Aspen trees in the Agile’s rear window.

Trick #6

Reflect on this.

This might be my favorite trick of the bunch.  The big windows on our Roadtrek Agile are just perfect for reflecting nature.  I shoot into my windows just about every time we go out and I’m almost always happy with the results.  Sure, I like straight-on landscapes, but the reflection shots always get a lot of attention.  Reflection shots work best if you’re photographing bright, colorful scenes, like fall colors, or spring wildflowers.

Trick #7

Charley and the rainbow.
Charley and the rainbow.

Play with some software filters.

It doesn’t matter if you shoot with your phone, a compact camera or a DSLR; there are creative editing tools and filters for all of them.  Filters are a lot of fun and they can really dress up a photograph that might be a little less than exciting on its own.  You can give your images a vintage look, enhance colors and contrast, or even add creative textures.

Trick #8

Try a new angle.

At Yosemite's Wowona Bridge
At Yosemite’s Wowona Bridge

Most of us stand straight up when we’re taking a photograph, and our subject is usually at the same level as our eyeballs.  While this may be the most comfortable way to use a camera, it isn’t always the most interesting.  When you’re photographing your Roadtrek, make sure you walk around all sides of it.  And while you’re doing that, also make sure to duck down a little bit, or climb on things, or stand further away.  Try to choose the best possible background to show off your van. I know it takes much longer to do it that way, but you’ll be surprised, and pleased, by the results.

Trick #9

Shoot at night.

Night photography isn’t for everybody.  But if you’ve got the equipment (a camera that can take long exposures and a tripod) you can bring home some beautiful and very unique photographs.

Yosemite Falls and Charley from Cook's Meadow
Yosemite Falls and Charley from Cook’s Meadow

I took this one of my Roadtrek “Charley” in Yosemite.  The lights of the passing cars lit up the Van and added a feeling of movement.  Yosemite Falls in the background sure didn’t hurt either.

Trick #10

It’s all about the composition.

There are more compositional rules out there than you can shake a tripod at, but as much as I hate to say it, they’re there for a reason.  In my mind, composition is the most important element in your photographs.  Here are some simple concepts to keep in mind when you’re taking a photograph.  A) Not everything needs to be in the center of the picture.  Mix it up.  B)  If you’re trying to show something in your photograph, make sure it’s big enough to see.  C)  Make sure there isn’t anything in your photograph that will interfere with your subject.  In other words, if you’re shooting your van, don’t include those trash cans, fire hydrants or sign posts that always want to get in your shot.  If you have to, move the van.  And finally D) If you cut off part of your van, make sure you intended to do it.  You can do that easily by avoiding those “little” cuts.  Nothing looks worse than seeing 7/8ths of a van.  Or a person, for that matter.

Our Roadtrek Agile on the Tioga Pass Road.
Our Roadtrek Agile on the Tioga Pass Road.

So, those are our 10 tips for photographing your Roadtrek.  But, now that I think about it, these little tricks aren’t just for your Class B motorhome.  You could use them with a full-sized RV as well.  Or even a car.  Or a……….well, you get the idea.

Finally, I’d like to thank Mike Wendland, author of the Roadtreking Blog and Admin of the Facebook group Roadtreking for putting together a great video “Sunsets around North American” featuring some awesome owner’s shots of their personal Roadtreks.  What a great idea.

Rochelle shooting the sunset at Bodega Head
Rochelle shooting the sunset at Bodega Head

9 Responses

  1. Kevin and Rochelle:
    If you are anything like myself, the wanderlust I see in you will very soon find you and your Roadteck Class B van conversion far into Europe and well beyond…….. Happy trekking! Wonderful articles, Excellent photography.

    Joan

    1. Thank you Joan. Europe in a Roadtrek? That would be an adventure. For now, we’re looking forward to Yellowstone in a week or so. Happy Trails!

  2. As usual, a fun and useful post even for camera hounds who don’t have a Roadtrek. Your examples are always so inspiring! Can’t WAIT to see Charley at Yellowstone. When you get back you can book passage to Europe 🙂

    1. Thanks Char,

      We were just talking about a possible trip to Europe, but I doubt if we’re bring Charley. Though, he was born there. 🙂

      1. ROFL Kevin! But that’s perfect, you know. If you take Charley, you won’t need no steenkin’ GPS – he’ll be in home territory and can show you around! 😀

  3. We too, just got our first RV last August, and it is a ROADTREK. We call ours, our “freedom fort”, and love it like you love your
    Charley. I’ve had so much fun reading your blog, and seeing the awesome pictures you guys take. Thank you for all of the sharing you do. It’s such a treat to open my email and see a new entry from you. Happy Trails!!!!

    1. Hi Barb. I love the name “Freedom Fort”. It certainly covers what the Roadtrek can do for our lifestyles. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks for the very nice note.

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